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Thursday
Aug212003

Ownership Has its Benefits & Demands

Was just thinking the other day about the benefits to owning things, when I was reminded that along with the "benefits" of owning things there are also "demands" which things place on their owners. Of course this is true with most anything, and for each thing we own we must find the balance between its benefits and demands.

I was thinking more about ownership benefits/demands in terms of technology, but I think this idea applies to anything that can be owned. For instance, owning a handheld is a great thing: I can track my time, read e-books, play games and many other wonderful things which can truly enrich my life. On the other hand, a handheld is a time drain that "demands" my time, energy, memory, or what I call "care and feeding".

For instance, I have to remember to carry my Clie along when I go out so I have my phone numbers or can check dates or setup spur-of-the-moment appointments. I'm required to drop my handheld in the cradle every now and then to top up the battery or it might just up and die on me. I have to sync it with my Mac weekly (if not daily), to keep my work time recording up to date. And of course I should back up regularly or I might risk spending more time, energy and memory cells rebuilding the Clie from older backups.

That doesn't even take into account time spent finding, installing and learning to use third party software, or troubleshooting problems and errors, both of which are time energy demands. After a while all of these "care and feeding" issues start adding up.

On the monetary side of things, you might want to buy accessories, like a protective case, a travel sync cable, memory card(s), a nice stylus, third party software and so on. Pretty soon even the most basic handheld can begin to get pricey if you don't watch it.

Now don't get me wrong -- I love my handheld and think it's a wonderful addition to my life. I keep much better track of my time, I have immediate access to all of my contacts when I'm on the go and can read e-books anywhere.

What I'm trying to point out is this: anything you own (which in this example case happens to be a handheld) will place demands on your time and energy. Because we all live in an ownership-oriented, materialistic and advertising-driven culture, we often fail to take this "demands" aspect of material things into account, because we are often more focused on the "benefits" an object may offer.

When I weigh the "care and feeding" demands of a handheld against its benefits, I think it's a pretty decent trade-off, but maybe something else isn't a good trade off -- I want to be more aware of that. I'm happy to find I am starting to do this kind of weigh-off more and more. I believe it's just a habit you need to be foster in yourself, if you feel knowing the "total cost of ownership" of an object is valuable to your decision making.

Anyway, just something to consider... :-)

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